By Stephanie Gilbert
My name is Stephanie Gilbert and I am one of the new Digital Assistants here at Digital Collections. Perhaps some of you have heard of Hayes Mizell. For several years, Mizell was a prominent Civil Rights Activist. He served as director of the South Carolina Community Relations Program of the American Friends Service Committee from 1966-1982, and in one of his speeches likened his role to that of a “professional advocate”. Mizell traveled all over the U.S. delivering speeches in support of school integration and educational improvements for students from low-income families. His collection includes personal images of himself and his associates as well as letters, programs, and copies of his many speeches.
So, what exactly is my role when digitizing this collection? As the digital assistant, the first step is always scanning. I ensure that each item is clearly scanned, edited, and stored in the proper format. Next, I create metadata that is entered into an excel spreadsheet which will then be run through a series of programs to polish the data. It then gets loaded online through ContentDM which makes it public so that researchers have full access to the materials. Though this process is lengthy and detail heavy, it ensures that another format of the materials exist, so the documents are preserved physically and digitally.
New job + new skill set = amazing! I am thoroughly enjoying my time here at Digital Collections. I have found it quite refreshing to meet new people and learn more about a different area of information science. The environment is quiet, peaceful, and filled with friendly people who are a pleasure to work with and learn from. I am also enjoying the Mizell Collection. I find that I always become fond of whatever collection I work on. I tend to form an emotional connection through physically handling documents, and the items in this collection to me serve as the physical embodiment of Mizell’s influence in the community. It is so easy to form an attachment when you think of his work in this way. It is also eye-opening to preserve items digitally as opposed to physically rehousing with folders and boxes. I look forward to what else my future spent with Digital Collections and the Hayes Mizell Collection will hold!